Ian started Montessori school in January. He goes three hours a day three days a week. While he is really getting a lot out of the experience, it is just as much for me as it is for him. I had hoped to use the time to work out, but there is so much to do to get ready to move, that I have been using for errands instead.If you do three days a week, you choose from Monday-Wednesday or Wednesday-Friday. They do this because having the days together seems to make the transition easier for them ad get into the routine better than alternating days.
This Montessori program has a transitioning in period that I really like. First, you visit the classroom with your child for about 20 minutes, then, you do a week of one hour a day and you try to leave the room. Then, the next week, they do two hours a day and finally on the third week, they go to the full three hours a day. Of course, if it takes longer, they are fine with that. I was worried that Ian would have a rough time. He is very independent as long as he knows where I am.
During the visit, he stayed very close to me and stacked cups. The first one hour day, he sat on my lap for about 10 minutes, but by the end of the hour he had made it to all four corners of the room. The next day, I was able to leave the room. He said,"No, no, Ma!", but in the time it took me to go across the hall and turn around, he was distracted. he stayed in for the rest of the hour (about 20 minutes) and then it was time to go.
Our second week, the first day was hard. they take the kids from your car and return them to your car so there are no big dramatic goodbyes at the door to the classroom. I parked and went into the room across the hall. He cried for a long time. I cried in the room, but they told that they would come get me and have me bring the car around if they thought he reached his limit. The teachers tried to hug and comfort him, but it just made him angry and he pounded the door yelling,"Mama, mama!" The way they calmed him down, was by taking him to get himself a tissue and having him wipe his nose and throw it away. He loves to throw things away. I really didn't think he was going to make it for two hours, but after they calmed him down the first time, he was happy for the rest of the class. The rest of the week, I just left and he did better and better each day.
By the third week, he cried when they took him from the car and when they returned him, but they said he did well during the day. The fourth week, he stopped crying when they returned him to the car. He is the youngest in the class, so I try to be first or second in line so he doesn't have to wait. to see a lot of other people leave before him.
Montessori teaches kids from a very young age to take care of their environment and do things for themselves. Ian loves to do things for himself, so it is a perfect fit for him. They do group activities like singing and yoga, but if kids don't want to participate, they don't have to. When I observed, every time there was a kid who refused to participate, within seconds of the activity starting, the kid would go over on his own to join. I like that because, does it really matter if a kid sings "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"? It is not like they are refusing to take the SATs or something. The alternative would be to drag an unwilling kid over to sing and have them meltdown and disrupt everyone else. This way, everyone else participates and usually the reluctant kid joins in. I think choosing your battles with little ones is important.
Several friends are interested in the school now. I hope they like it and go. Different programs are better for different kids, but I think that Montessori is great for preschool.